MTB strategy for Illawarra Escarpment revealed amid controversy
One of Australia’s most renowned mountain biking locations is set to undergo significant change with the release of the Illawarra Escarpment Mountain Bike Strategy.
The strategy proposes a network of trails on Mount Keira, Mount Kembla and Balgownie stretching approximately 82km but hasn't been free of controversy.
The government-led report was commissioned in 2015 to look at the potential for expansion to public trails after an increase in demand as well as construction of ‘illegal’ trails.
A total of 956 submissions were received from a range of groups such as government organisations, environmental groups and Aboriginal stakeholders.
The latter expressed concern about the lack of consultation about proposed trails on the culturally significant sites of Mt. Keira and Mount Kembla.
The summary of the report was emphatic however stating, ‘there is existing and growing demand for mountain bike recreation in the Illawarra. This is evidenced by the large number of supportive submissions and the proliferation of illegal trails.
‘Prohibiting mountain bike recreation on the escarpment is not considered by NPWS andCouncil to be feasible.
‘The primary emphasis of the Strategy is to deliver safe, sustainable recreation on the Illawarra escarpment. NPWS and Council consider that sustainable mountain bike recreation can occur on the escarpment and that sustainably-designed and built trails will provide better environmental outcomes than illegal trails.’
The design of the network was not released to the public and is subject to funding with further announcements expected over the coming months.
You can find a copy of the Strategy here.